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Married couples in games

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This isn't a design issue I have, per se, just want to start a discussion... I recently finished playing a console game where it was strongly hinted (almost gaurenteed) that the main Hero and his Love Interest would get married at some future point, but I was greatly dissapointed to see that they were not, at least by the end of the game. I've noticed the same thing in a lot of other games, where Hero and Love Interest clearly love each other, but don't get married. Coming from my hardcore right-wing, highly moralistic christian background, I think this is kinda lame. I think it would be interesting to have a married couple be the main characters in a game, which would provide a whole new set of interactions between characters. Also, this would introduce a whole new set of plot hooks--i.e., a co-op shooter, where the two players would play as the parents of a kidnapped child, or giving the player more reasons to rescue the princess other than the Hero has a not-too-well defined crush on her. Your thoughts?

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Well, not sure if you want my opinion on it since I am a liberal athiest, but I also happen to think marriage can be an interesting story element, in games or otherwise. I think that the problem with showing one or more playable characters married in a game is that the player may not want to identify with a character involved in a romance or making the commitment of a marriage. Young male players often have no interest in anything too sappy and lovey dovey. All players may object to having their character be in love with an NPC the player isn't attracted too, especially if the player is more attracted to some other NPC.

Harvest Moon is an interesting example of a series of games which do have marriage, and in point of fact require the player to get married as part of the victory conditions of the game. It partially solves the problem of what the player is attracted to by providing several village girls to chose from, but is still problematic in that the player must play as a male character and marry a female character. Ironic, since this series of games has a large % of female fans who like its farm-sim gameplay and theme or courting and marriage.

My personal solution to this problem was to design my game _Xenallure: A Tapestry Of Hearts_ so that the player character is just an avatar - they player can choose their gender (which has little effect on gameplay), and court any of 10 male, female, and in-between NPCs, chosing whether to pursue a romance, friendship, or rivalry with each. If the player achieves the highest stage of romantic relationship with an NPC they get the option to marry them, while if they reach the highest stage of friendship they get the option to vow blood brotherhood, etc. My general policy is to always leave it up to the player whether or not he or she wants their character to do something in the game, never forcing players to do something they may dislike. The game is an interactive entertainment after all, the primary virtue of the medium is that we can let the player choose to do whatever they find most entertaining.

However you mention an FPS. I can see marriage working in a sim or an RPG/MMORPG, but I'm not sure how you could make an FPS both plotted enough to develop interesting characters and freeform enough to let the player optionally pursue a variety of romances.

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I think what was hinted at in OP was that a cooperative mode in a shooted was the easiest answer to "how could we introduce married couples in a game?" Making a "Max Payne"-like with two players being in love to rescue their daughter would be fun, because it would require both players to constantly rescue their partner, instead on focusing on high score. It would help trigger emotional linking between the players and their virtual counterparts. Or so was what i understood from OP...

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For a co-op only game, it's certainly an interesting idea. Or in a single player game, you could have two campaigns and experience the same story from both perspectives (though this could be just as well done without the 2 characters being married.)

But generally (action) single player games tend to minimize the interactive screentime of your partner/sidekick, because of AI/scripting difficulties & in most cases the freedom provided by adventuring alone is more rewarding. Also, this way the scenes with both onscreen can be more memorable and something to look forward to. So, if marriage represents stability and more time spent together, it may be harder to credibly have those necessary long stretches of solo gameplay...?

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Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Well, not sure if you want my opinion on it since I am a liberal athiest...

Sure I want your opinion. I was just trying to open a discussion on this topic. I just mentioned my background so you guys knew where I was coming from...

Quote:
Original post by Fournicolas
I think what was hinted at in OP was that a cooperative mode in a shooted was the easiest answer to "how could we introduce married couples in a game?" Making a "Max Payne"-like with two players being in love to rescue their daughter would be fun, because it would require both players to constantly rescue their partner, instead on focusing on high score. It would help trigger emotional linking between the players and their virtual counterparts. Or so was what i understood from OP...

Yes, exactly.

@ Agent C: I gave the FPS example becasue it was the first example I could think of. However, you have a point--a single-player FPS would be kinda difficult with a married couple, at least when you have to split up. I also like your suggestion of having two campaigns, one from the husband's perspective, and the other from the wife's.

However, I think that, in games where you have to hang around at least one NPC constantly--like Starfox, for example (where you have three wingmen you need to protect--actually, Starfox Assault was what started this whole topic)--I think it would work really well to have Hero and Love Interest be married.

One of the few problems I see with this whole marriage thing, at least with mainstream games, is how they are designed. From what I've seen, most games out there take great pains to immerse the player--i.e., the main character is the target audiences' age (e.g., Sonic the Hedgehog is only 15), the character will, occasionally, have no spoken diolouge whatsoever, with the player expected to fill in the gaps with their own diolouge (e.g., Chrono Trigger), etc. Having the main character be married when the player is not screws this up.

However, on games where a character is provided for you (e.g., Final Fantasys 1-10, Star Fox Assault), where there is little-to-no roleplaying involved, the player should just accept this, along with all the other inconvenient details that clash with the players background (e.g., the character is a FOX, for crying out loud--yes, I like Starfox. Why do you ask?).

Again, this is intended to be an open discussion--what do you guys think?




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The problem is the maturity level of the game. See, you watch a movie like Braveheart or The Patriot and a Marriage fits in perfectly, because the movies promote the whole rite of passage into adulthood. To have a marriage within a gamestory, you'd need characters that were maturing. It is exactly as you said, when you have characters that are 15 years old, Marriages are out of place. But then, turn around and throw a 24 year old character and it makes more sense.

Take Xenogears, Citan Uziki was married and had a daughter. He was also in his 30s as I recall.

As for the marriage itself, it'd make an interesting story event, but you have to step back and look at what the whole thing promotes. I'm going to assert a violation of innocence (and I don't mean physical, that'd get your ESRB rating kicked up to MA17). It could be other things, but the tone going on is a maturing, which would only work against a macrocosm where this sort of thing was also happening.

It'd make a great story, thats for sure.

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Speaking of marriage and shooter plotlines, what about Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the movie coming out starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie married assassins who suddenly find each other in their crosshairs?

A game with such a premise could do a lot to reveal character and relationship depth through dialog and mission objectives (as in "wound his/her pride, but don't kill him/her") while still theoretically remaining a shooter. And what a great opportunity for something else games rarely see: Humor! [smile]

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